Place de la Concorde, November 11, 1918
November 11 is a national holiday in France; it’s just too bad it falls on a Sunday this year, so no day off! It is the commemoration of the end of World War I (or the Great War as it was called before there were two), when Germany signed the armistice and the war ended at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. In the U.S., today is Veterans’ Day, which honors veterans from all wars.
I had noticed over the last few days that new blue, white, and red flowers had been placed near the many plaques around the city honoring Parisians who fell at that particular spot (most of them during World War II). Our neighborhood monument, the Pantheon, was particularly decorated today, with French flags adorning the front pillars.
The Pantheon, November 11, 2007
On this day in 1920 an unknown soldier was laid to rest at the Pantheon. There is also a tomb of an unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe.
The parades of veterans commemorating Armistice Day were the largest France had ever seen: the reach of the war was far, and drew in more sons, fathers, and brothers as trench warfare for years virtually halted any military advancement on either side. Today, only three known World War I veterans are still alive in France (22 in the whole world). But the legacy of the world’s first modern war lives on, as the Great War was a major turning point in cultural and political history; the end of the long nineteenth-century. The French Third Republic survived, but the conflict laid the groundwork for the twentieth-century conflicts to come.